StockMarketWire.com - Countryside Properties said chairman David Howell would step down during 2021 as the home builder detailed plans to separate its housebuilding business amid limited growth opportunities following increased focus on growing its partnerships.

Rothschild & Co. were appointed to 'advise the board on the best time and process to realise best value from the separation of Housebuilding from the group,' the company said.

The strategic update comes as the company swung to a loss in 2020, but said it was on track to meet the upper end of operating profit expectations for 2021 and pledged to reinstate its dividend next year.

For the year ended 30 September 2020, pre-tax loss was £1.9 million compared with a profit of £203.6 million as revenue fell 28% to £829 million year-on-year.

The annual loss was blamed on disruptions to homebuilding activity amid the Covid-19 lockdown earlier this year.

Total completions fell 29% to 4,053, and private selling price was flat at £364,000 amid deflation within the housebuilding division.

Total forward order book was up 16% to £948.9m.

The company said it intended to reinstate the dividend in 2021, though added that it would confirm the level of dividend pay-out at the half year results.

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